Sylvan Drey.

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turn tin-ice in liis grave. [He sits down.]

Mr. Adams [arising]. Mr. President, I do not propose to waste time
in refutintj; the s))eciousand ingenious arguments of the Senator who has
just taken his seat. It is my dul3\ however, to correct some errors
'into wbicli he has fallen, and which have led him to mal^e false charges
against the Commission. If the gentleman knew anything at all about the
Massachusetts AVoman's Rights Association he could not have uttered
such sentimental trash as "the winsome smiles of fair dam-<els and the
briglit lustre of their eyes," for the members of that Association all wear
blue goggles, and most of them are either old maids or married women
whose winsome smiles, if they ever had any, have long since 1)een con-
verted into the scowls of a settled frown. I need only add that this
change is in all probability due to the fact that Ihey have married men
similar in disposition and temper to the Senator. [He sits doion.]

Miss Mar;/ Talker* [arising]. From time immemorial the affairs of
the worM have been under the management of men, and. in view of the
miserable manner in which they have been managed, common decency
alone should deter the male sex from ofi'ering any resistance to this
reform movement. The gentleman who opposed this motion concluded
his sophistical harangue by saying that political lexicographers would
find great ditlicultv in inventing suitable names for female " lobbyists "
or "wire-pullers" or female "stalwarts" or "half-breeds." Mr.
President, this rests on the false premise that women can be as corrupt
as men. The invention of such names is entirely superduous. Xo true
woman would so far forget her womanly virtue as to become a Repub-
lican — or a Democrat either, for that matter. But what if their pro-
clivities should induce them to join the ring or machine? Rings are
more appropriate ornaments for women than for men. And why, pray,
should slie be condemned to run the sewing machine, while he reserves
the right to control the political machine? The latter is less dilRcult
of management and pays infinitely better. [A short pmise.] The gentle-
man seems to deplore the fact that the success of this movement will no
longer enable him to bask his corruption in the sunlight of his wife's
purity. What a superb sentiment ' How pathetically sublime ! This
sad spectacle was no doubt meant to play upon your emotions, and, of
course, you all felt penitent. But a little reason will suppress a great
deal of emotion. If you really rue your past political indiscretions,
rouse yourself from your moral lethargy, make out your accounts, and
pay back the overdrawn amounts to the State treasurer. Tliis is
genuine repentance — true reform. [A short pause.] But it is not only in
politics that woman has been denied her rights. Female education,
too, has also been shamefully neglected. For a long time the ball-room
has been a girl's school ; dress her study ; marriage her graduating
certificate. It is your duty, gentlemen — though it may not be a very
pleasant one — to aid us in teaching women that man is by no means
so desirable an oI)jecfc as society would have us believe. This end can
onl}^ be accomplisiied by opening to her the doors of our colleges, that
she may study the history of the animal kingdom, and above all, the
Darwinian theory, which will give her a true insight into the origin of

*Thissp?ech should be delivered in a forcible manner, but slowly, so that the
speaker may weary her audience.



13

much-adored man. She should likewise be taught the higher branches
of niathematies, so that she might be able to reckon "precisely how
much her future husband intended to make by his matrimonial opera-
tions. Great progress has already been made in this direction. It is
no longer an uncommon thing for a wealtliy young lady desperately in
love witli some young man to refuse to marry him simply because he is
poor. [A sJiort jjarise.] As to the abihty of woman to pursue the higher
branches of knowledge there can be no reasonable doubt. I will read
to you a report in support of this assertion, prepared by the presidents
of several universities where both sexes have been educated together.
[Taking out a roll of paper and reading.^ " The undersigned, Presi-
dents of Lasalle, Tobik and otiier colleges, submit the following report
on the practical results of co-education among the sexes, for the benefit
of those who are interested in the subject. It is nothing but an innate
prejudi(;e which leads the majority of people to suppose that young
men and young ladies cannot be advantageously educated in the same
classes.'' (Mr. President, I recommend that sentiment to your especial
consideration. But to continue.) '' Early in March, 18{^0, a convention
was called in tlie city of New York to discuss the propriety of admitting
women to the universities and colleges of the United IStates. The
proposition met with much opposition, but mostly from narrow-
minded men Avhose arguments were based on all kinds of imaginary
fears and evils." (Mr. President, I recommend that sentiment to your
espetial consideration. But to continue.) "'Despite all opposition,
however, the majority of the delegates succeeded in procuring the
passage of a resolution the object of which was the entire obliteration
of all distinctions between males and females, so far as the right to
attend our colleges and universities was concerned. Many theologians
who were present at the convocation seriously objected toco-education
and roundly asserted that it would have a detrimental eli'ect on female
morals." (Theologians, Mr. President, are always solicitous about
everybody's morals except their own. But —

Mr. SheepJtead [arisiiig], Mr. President, I object to the further read-
ing of that report. The members are beginning to get drowsy and it is
time to adjoui'n. [President raps for order.]

Miss Talker [eying the speaker angrily while he speaks, and then re-
suming]. " Many theologians who were present at the convocation
seriously objected to co-education, and roundly asserted that it would
be sure to have a detiimentalt fleet on female morals. Others objected
that co-education among the sexes would develop a new species of in-
tellectual tlirtation. [Signs of restlessness among the members.] A fair
trial of the plans proposed by the convention has not only dispelled all
doubt as to its practicability, but it has also demonstrated the absurdity
of all the arguments advanced by the opposition." (vl/r. President, I
recommend that sentiment to your es2)ecial consideration. But to continue.)
" Smce the date of this convention many other colleges [some of the
members begin to gape] have resolved to admit women to tlieir classes,
and no less than fifty girls were graduated from these colleges. They
have displayed remarkable ability [some of the members begin to rub
their eyes as if sleepy] and I'are talent in all the departments of science
to which they have devoted themselves. As doctors, they destroy
fewer lives ; as lawyers, they charge less exorbitant prices ; as theo-
logians, they are less impious; as legislators, they speak more often
and longer [cries of'^no doubt ^^] in defence of their country." (Mr.



u

President, I recommend that sentiment to your especial consideration.
But to continve.) " We are of the opinion that nothing is so well
cak'uhitcd to impi-ovo liie tone of society than tlie salutary efi'eet which
the presence ol' females exerts over the mental activity of young men.
It stimulates tiiem to nobler purposes, it awakens latent intellect,
it widens liieir tieUl of observation, it whets their appetite for tjio
aesthetic, and above all, it corrects any evil tendency towards uncouth-
ncss and incivility." {Mr. President. I recommend that sentiment to
your especial consideration. But to contimie.) " We trust the day is not
far distant when —

Mr. Sheephead [arising and gapin(/]. Mr. President, I earnestly pro-
test against permitting this woman to continue her inexhaustible flow
of words, yhe is not only presuming on our good natures, but she is
actually trespassing on our sleeping hours. [President raps for order.]

jMiss Talker [in an excited mannef and angry tone], Mr. President,
this is the second time that tlie gentleman (if such he may be called)
has attempted to divert the attention of this Assembly from the most
important part of my argument. I assure him no impertinent interfer-
ence on his part can make me swerve from my duty. This untimely
interruption, gentlemen, has, I know, almost made you lose the deep
interest whicli you all feel in this report [signs of disgust among the
members] ; in order that you may thoroughly appreciate its salient
features, 1 will re-read it from the beginning. [Members all sigh and
show signs of distress.] I must and will accomplish my desired end.

Mr. khccphead [arising and gajnng]. If the lady's object Mas to put
us all into a mesmeric sleep by tlie length of her magnetic speech, she
has already well-nigh accomplished her end. [President raps for
order.]

Miss Talker [during the re-reading of this report the members gradually
fall to sleep, except the President, who makes desperate efforts to keep
awake]. "It is nothing but au innate prejudice whicli leads the
majority of people to suppose that young men and young ladies cannot
be advantageously educated in the same classes. Early in March,
1880, a convention was called in the city of New York, to discuss the
.propriety of admitting women to the universities and colleges of the
United States. The proposition met with much opposition, but mostly
from narrow-minded men whose arguments were based on all kinds of
imaginary fears and evils. [Loud snoring is heard for a few seconds on
the right side of the hall.] Despite all opposition, however, the
majority of the delegates succeeded in procuring the passage of a reso-
lution, the object of wliich was the entire obliteration of all distinctions
between males and females, so far as the right to attend our colleges
and univeisities was concerned. Many theologians who were present
at the convocation seriousl}' objected to co-education, and roundly
asserted tiiat it would liave a (leirimental elfcct on female morals.
Others objected that co-education among the sexes would develop a
new species of intellectual tlirtation.' A fair trial of the plans proposed
by the convention has not only dispelled all doubt as to its practica-
bility, but it has also demonstrated the absurdit}' of all the arguments
advanced by the opposition. Since tlie date of this convention many
other colleges have resolved to admit women to their classes, and no
less than (ifty girls were graduated from these colleges. The}' have
displayed remarkable ability and rare talent in all the departments of
science to w hich they have devoted themselves. As doctors, they



15

destroy fewer lives ; as lawyers, they charge less exorhitant prices ; as
theologians, they are less impious ; as legislators, tliey spealv more
often and longer in defence of their country. We are of the oi)inion that
nothing is so well calculated to improve the tone of society than the
salutary eflect which the presence of females exerts over the mental
activity of young men. It stimulates them to nobler purposes, it
awakens latent intellect, it widens their field of observation, it whets
their appetite for the sesthetic, and above all, it corrects any evil
tendency towards uncouthness and incivility. We trust the day is near
at hand when these facts will be universall}^ recognized. The good to
be derived from the institution of such a reform is inestimable ; upon
its success or fiiilure depends woman's future." Now, Mr. President,
I will relate a few facts which came under my personal —

Mr. Brown. Miss Talker, as it is long past the constitutional hour
of adjournment, I will be constrained to ask you to discontinue your
speech.

Miss Talker. Mr. President and Gentlemen : Thanking you all for
your kind and earnest attention [loud snoring is heard from the left
side of the hall]^ I can only hope that this motion will be carried.

Mr. Brown [ra2)ping loudly for order, which rouses the members., who
turn around and rub their eyes or gape~\. All in favor of this motion say
[gaping] aye.

All [sleepily]. Aye !

Mr. Brown. All opposed [gaping]^ no.

Mr. Sheephead [very loud]. No!

Mr. Broivn [rubbing his eyes]. The motion is carried and the assem-
bly stands adjourned. [Curtain falls.]



ACT II.

{Several montlis are supposed to elapse betioeen Act I and Act II.)

Scene : — Interior view of Miss Mary Talker's Laio Office.

There is one door in the centre, one to the right and one to the left. Over the
centre door are the words ''Miry Talker, Atiorney-at-Law '/ over the rUiht door the
words " Waiting Roomy To the left of the centre coor is a large i^lacard in full
vie^c of the audience, on tchich the foUutoing notice is printed : '' ISpeciul attention
given to the contracting of Mortgage Loans, Marriages, and other incumbrances.
Husbands prociired at the shorted possible notice. No extiu chargea for women
advanced in years. Divorces procwtd at bQ per cent, beluw the rig ular charges.
All business strictly confidential and secretly conducted." To t/ufar right of tM
centre door are a high desk and tico high ordinary counting-room chairs, occupied
by two femrde clc) ks, who are engaged in writing when curtain rises. To the near
Wt of the centre door is an elegant laioyefs desk, at which Miss Talker is seated
reading a newspaper.

Enter Mrs. Stare Morose.

Mrs. Starr Morose [excited]. Good morning. Miss Talker.

Miss Talker. Goou morning, Mrs. Morose. Why, 3"ou seem to be
excited. Take a seat. [She offers her a chair.]

Mrs. Morose. It's just as I told you. Miss Talker; ever since the
passage of that Woman's Rights Bill I've had nothing but trouble —
trouble — trouble. Scarcely had the new law been enacted than



<



16

Johanna, my eldest daughter, took it into her head tliat she must be
elected to Coni;ress as a Massachusetts Cougresswoman. In order to
procure the nomination she started out on a stump-speech expedition,
and ever since she has had a brain afi'ection, superinduced, so the
doctors think, by a sudden, violent and long-protracted attack of civil
service reform. A short while after this terrible calamity my second
daughter, Elsie, applied for a position as bank cashier. Slie succeeded
in obtaining such a position in the First National Bank. But alas !
the temptation was too great for her, and like the male cashiers before
her, she absconded never to return again. And now my third and last
daughter has become entangled in the meshes of the law.

Aliss Talker [ia a dramatic manner]. A most noble profession! a
most noble profession !

Mrs. Morose. I don't think you quite understand me, madam. She
has never evinced any desire to adopt the profession of Uiav ; that
would only be evidence of pi'emature immoral propensities. But she
has been actually sued {with strong emjiliasis^ — sued by a most imperti-
nent, arrogant, empty-brained young law student.

Miss Talker \wlth delight and surprise]. Sued!

Mrs. Morose [angi'ili/\. Well, you seem to be extraordinarily de-
lighted at the prospect. That is the way with you lawyers, the possi-
bility of a fee steels your hearts against all the stings which wound a
mother's heart. I expected better things of female advocates, but it is
with you like the rest of them, one can hardly state his case before
you stretch out your hands to grasp the fee.

Miss Talker [indignantly]. Not at all, not at all! You mistake the
real signilieatiou of my apparent delight. Whenever I hear that a
young innocent girl has been sued by one of those male saints, it makes
my blood boil, it shocks my nervous system, it sends a thrill of anger
through ni}' entire body, causing a smile of contentment to light upon
my countenance, which is but the bitter irony of scorn and contempt.
My charity is broad and comprehensive. Oh ! it is not theyee, nor yet
the male., but the /emoYe, about whicli 1 am concerned.

Mrs. Morose. Well, then, let me tell you the cause of this suit. My
daughter May is a very imprudent girl, but her youth may be pleaded in
extenuation of her childish indiscretions. As you may have imagined,
she was very fond of this supercilious, shodd}' law student, whose name,
by the way, is Mr. Robert Green. Thougli he was reputed to be
wealth}', I l.ave peremptorily forbade May to associate witli l.im. She
obeyed for a while, but as soon as the Woman's Rights Bill was passed
she not only became refractory, but absolutely unmanageable [rcith
strong emphasis]. Because I refused to allow her to receive this Mr.
Green at hume, she determined — now that the Legislature has wiped
away all distinction between men and women — to visit this insolent
fellow at his own house. After continuing her visits for a few months,
she had the boldness to propose to him, and he immediately accepted
the proposal. Subsequently she refused to marry him, on the ground
that he lad wilfully deeeived her as to his rank in society and the
amount of his income. Mr. Green at once engaged the services of a
certain lawyer, Sheephead, who has entered suit against my daughter
to recover $20,000 damages lor breach of promise to marry.

3Iiss Talker [lit a tragic mannei-]. A woman's pride wounded ! Ye
gods of justice, defend our noble sex, aid me in the trial of this case,
give me strengtli and time to say all that I may desire to say, and strike
my opponent dumb, in the interest of truth and justice.



17

Mrs. Morose [watching her with surprise^. Why, you are growing
quite enthusiastic all of a sudden.

Miss Talker. Yes, that is an apostrophe which I always deliver
before engaging in a legal combat — making, of course, the necessary
changes to suit the occasion. You may depend upon it, Mrs. Morose,
I will vindicate the honor of oiu- sex at all hazards ; I will meet and
demolish the foe. Let us go at once to the clerk's office, and I will
enter my appearance.

[Exeunt Mrs. Morose and Miss Talker.^

\st Clerk. I tell you, Sue, the younger generation of females are fast
coming to the front.

Id Clerk. That they are, Mag. When we were young, girls waited
until the men came to see them.

\st Clerk. Indeed they did. Sue, though some of them were a long
time coming.

2d Clerk. Since the passage of the new bill women are all the time
quarreling.

\st Clerk. No doubt that's the reason lawyer Talker worked so
diligently in the interest of the bill. You can never tell what these
professional women are up to.

2d Clerk. It has been said, I know not with how much truth, that
the new bill would never have been passed had Miss Talker not put the
members to sleep by her very interesting speech.

Enter Mr. A. A. B. Sheephead and Mr. R. Green.

Mr. Sheephead {to \st Clerk'] . Is Mi'. Talker in ?

\st Clerk. Miss Talker, you mean, sir. No, sir, she just stepped
out.

Mr. Sheephead [to Mr. Green]. Well, this is a piece of the coolest
eftVontery on record. [To 1st Clerk]. — Do you mean to accuse me of
making secret engagements with Mr. Talker's daughter ? I suppose a
man who has had twenty 3'ears' experience at the bar ought to know
what he wants when he asks for anything. When I call for whiskey
straight, I don't want lemonade. [Looking around the room he per-
ceives the sign over the centre door all of a sudden. He puts his hands
in 7iis pockets., sways to and fro., staring at the sign in astonishment., and
whistles for a few seconds.] Great Scott ! shades of the almighty
Cajsar ! it is a woman. An attorney-at-law, and a member of that
abominable, most detestable Massachusetts Woman's Rights Associ-
ation — the very woman with whom I had that memorable wrangle in
the Senate. [To Mr. Green]. — My dear Green, I'll be compelled to
raise the fee. We'll be completely annihilated, if not in flesh, at least
in spirits. Do you know, sir, I'd rather be pitted against five of the
most eminent male lawyers this city aflbrds than one such long-tongued
woman. A man will always come to some settlement, even if it is
only ten cents on a dollar ; lout as for a woman — well, you may as well
save your breath.

Mr. Green. She mu — mu — must be a ter — ri — ri — ble mon — mon —
ster.

Mr. Sheephead. That she is, my boy, that she is. I tell you these
professional women worry the life and soul out of us poor men. It has
turned out just as I predicted at the last session of the Legislature. I
exerted all my mental energies to avert this terrible calamity, but all



18

to no purpose. I trust that the rising generation of young lawyers,
who are springing up everywhere, and on very barren soil too, will re-
sort to every means, fair or foul, to have this law which permits women
to practice in our courts repealed. These women are continually
cuttinc; the prices. Ah ! [si(jhi7ig] when I think of those days of peace
and exorbitant fees which have forever vanished, my heart leaps out to
our departed legislators,
[Pathetically.] Oh ! large retainers, sweet relics of the past,

How low sounds your bugle, how faint is your blast !

Mr. Green. Do you — you think there is — is any ch — chance of re —
recovering any damages ?

Mr. Sheephead [puzzled]. Oh — certainly, certainly. As a student
of the law let me inform you that it is a lawyer's duty always to think
so. A doubt may uoav and then come athwart the intellectual opei'a-
tions of his brain, but he should rise superior to all obstacles, and
taking the retainer like a man, he should say to his client, "My friend,
you've got a very good case, but, of course, there's no telling what a
jury may do." The jury, my boy, is the lawyer's soothing syrup.
Should he win his case, all well and good ; should he be so unfortunate
as to lose it, he need only say to his client, "My friend, the unfavor-
able verdict is due entirely to the stupidity of the jury ; the law was
decidedly in your favor." That is the reason, Green, why nine-tenths
of the bar object to the abolition of jury trials. .

Mr. Green. That — that is not the — the kind of law that — that they
tea — teach us at — at the univer — ver — si — si — ty. You — you think,
then, that — that we can re — re — cover ?

Mr. Sheephead. There's no doubt of it. We must stand up bravely
for our rights, and if this woman attempts to deliver any of her fifty
mile-speeches, when we come to try this case — why, I'll move the court
to have her disbaried for wilfully and maliciously obstructing the course
of justice. [Taking out his icatch.] It's getting late. [To 1st Clerk.]
Mi^s or Mrs. Clerk — whichever it may be — what time will the old lady
be in?

Ist Clerk. I expect her every moment.

Mr. Sheephead [to Mr. Green]. Well, Green, suppose we retire to
the waiting-room and take a smoke. [Giving him a cigar.]

Mr. Green. As — as you say. A youth of my — my ai' — ar — dent
spir — its always likes sm — smoke and — and fire.

[Exeunt Mr. S. and Mr. (?., arm in arm,]

Vst Clerk. That's a rather impertinent sort of fellow. He speaks
about Miss Talker as though we had no ears.

Id Clerk. I wonder who he can be?

\st Clerk. Some second-rate pettifogger, I suppose. When he comes
to consult with Miss Talker on law questions, he'll rue the day he was
born, I'll warrant.

Enter Dr. Brosius and Mr. Green [right door].

Mr. Green [with a cigar in his hand and speaking while entering],
I — I — say, doc — tor, does sh — she attend to — to all your col — lee — tions ?

Doctor Brosius. Every one. Green, these women make capital
collectors. Debtors pay just to get rid of them, besides they only ask
5 per cent, commission, while the regular charges are ten.

Mr. Green. We — well, doctor, how — how do they — they sue — succeed
in med — medicine?



19

Dr. Brosius [speaking as one trying to suppress the truth]. Not so
well, not so well. I could not conscientiously advise you to use them.
It is especially in the field of politics that women have been pre-
eminently successful. This is largely owing to the skill and prompt-
ness with which they answer queries propounded by the Civil Service
Reform Association. Last week I Avas invited to attend one of the
examinations. A young lady presented herself as a candidate to fill a
vacancy in the Police Board. The examiner asked her what she
conceived to be the duty of a policeman. She replied: "He should
studiously avoid all danger and never interfere with other people when
tiicy are engaged in quarreling. In this way the Board will be able to


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Online LibrarySylvan DreyWoman's rights; a strictly original comedy .. → online text (page 2 of 4)